Please check out this blistering video by George Carlin, who was almost always funny, and ALWAYS thought for himself:
Then read this blistering comment by Timothy Egan on one of our worst Senators:
and, finally, this blistering explanation of why the standard stratagems of that wretched Senator and his ilk always work:
Overstated? Sure! To a degree.
But lurking in all three of the above comments from smart, thoughtful people is the sadness of a common disillusionment. The Official Political Faith of America is representative democracy. Most pointy-headed intellectuals subscribe to this faith just as much everyone else here does, including the self-described Palinesque “real people”.
That’s why we American brainiacs are necessarily condemned to lead lives of serial disillusionment. Over and over again, from the Willie Horton lie against Michael Dukakis in 1988, through the Swift Boat lie about John Kerry, to the “death panel” lie last summer against health care reform, we have had to watch millions of voters jump on absurd lie after lie and make it their own, without investigation or even the application of minimal common sense about what’s likely — and what’s not likely — to be true.
Now lots of The Folks here in the USA are swallowing the lie that human-caused global warming is a lie. The vast majority of climate scientists tell us that global warming is happening. A few outlier scientists say it may or may not be happening. Right now, most of the Folks believe the tiny minority, and even blowhard opportunists like Senator Inhofe who say it’s definitely not happening, over the majority of scientists.
“Why oh why does this always happen?!” we propeller-heads cry, aghast.
The reasons are not hard to find:
1.) One half of all people have an IQ of less than 100*;
2.) The United States has the best public relations people (i.e., liars for hire) on earth; and
3.) The United States has the most militantly self-righteous rich people on earth, and they have lots to lose** if the global warming problem is acted upon, plus virtually endless supplies of money to pay to the 2) folks to lie to the 1) folks.
See, no mystery at all!
But for many of us the sadness remains. And so does a great fear. The People really do rule the USA to a degree, and if they are really this easily led by lies, then it’s only a matter of time until the USA does something terminally stupid.
And then the rest of us who live here will have to take the consequences right along with all the the inattentive folks and dingbats who were lied into bringing those consequences about.
I fear that. And I think that global warming is the thing we’re in the process of making our terminal mistake about now.
* Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale IQ Tests – (median = 100)
Granted, most people who fall below 100 I. Q. fall within 15 points of the 100 norm. Other factors unique to the USA, however (e.g., ever-increasing work hours, the innate sensationalism and superficiality of our for-profit TV news, etc.), make REAL FACTS hard for all of us to come by. See the first and second urls above for the most important of the impediments in our society to understanding how it really works.
** from drilling for, refining, shipping, and selling oil, natural gas, and coal; and
from selling all kinds of fun products that run on those energy sources.
But there’s another, more subtle, way that the USA’s current energy-use binge especially benefits our better-off citizens. The USA is a society that puts business at the pinnacle of social activities. And it accordingly makes money the usual measure of our citizens’ worth as human beings. The more money you can make, the more you will be honored. There is no competing substantial, society-wide road to high status (such as, for example, being born into an aristocracy that confers distinction even in the absence of wealth).
So any policy concern that might require a degree of retrenchment of economic activity in the USA to solve is widely denied. Any kind of economic retrenchment here strikes at the heart of the American version of one of the most fundamental wellsprings of action for all humans and creatures like us. To rise as high as possible in, or to keep one’s already-high place in, the applicable pecking order is a top priority for every social animal from chickens to humans. Here in the USA, centuries of prosperity arising from having had a whole new continent to exploit have accustomed the folks who possess unusually intense desires of this sort to always “expect the best”.
Our hotdog non-team players, in short, do not want to be made to strut their stuff on a smaller stage.
Here’s a response to Mr. Egan’s commentary that I think illustrates this. It expresses the fury of “Capitalist Prof”, who has accrued a lot of status and status markers that he sees those creepy environmentalists as threatening to take away or devalue: http://community.nytimes.com/comments/opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/07/21/weather-bane/?permid=194#comment194